American ballet dancers have been notable throughout the years in a variety of ways. From blazing trails for future dancers, to leaving behind a legacy solo career, ballet dancers in the United States have continually made history.
About American Ballet Dancers
American ballerinas and dancers come from all over the nation, and are trained in both large and small studios. Most begin dancing as young children near home, and then relocate as high school or college students to a more prestigious studio that will help launch a budding career. Many American dancers head to New York for these opportunities, which is home to American Ballet Theatre and the Juilliard School - both famously known for producing star dancers. Still others forgo their American heritage to go study and enjoy a career abroad, with notable companies such as the Royal Ballet in London. Ballet dancers in this nation are fortunate to have many studios to choose from, as well as heralding from a region of the world that values artistic achievement. Teaching and performance opportunities are plentiful in the United States, however the competition remains steep for those few coveted spots in highly regarded companies.
Notable Ballet Dancers
There have been many notable dancers throughout the history of American ballet. Some American ballet dancers are best known for their choreography, while others for their solo careers.
Gelsey Kirkland, born in 1952, has enjoyed an illustrious career in ballet. Most famous for performing in the televised version of The Nutcracker alongside Mikhail Barishnikov, she became a dancer with the New York City Ballet at age fifteen. She was personally invited by George Balanchine, and became a principal ballerina four years later. Kirkland endured many personal struggles during her professional achievements, including an eating disorder and addiction to drugs. She eventually went on to dance with the Royal Ballet in England, and later returned to the New York City Ballet. She established a classical ballet academy with her husband in 2010.
Agnes de Mille
Born in 1905, Agnes de Mille was born into a performing family in New York City. While she originally had hoped to become an actress, she eventually opted to dance instead. She is known for not being an "ideal" ballerina, with limited flexibility and technique. This made her even more beloved by the public. She did land spots with the London Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, which led to a lengthy career as a choreographer. She staged her first works for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and three of her ballets are still performed regularly at ballets today. She danced right up until her death in 1993, at the age of 88.
Suzanne Farrell trained at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in the 1950s, and in 1961, she was chosen to join Balanchine's School of American Ballet on scholarship. Many roles were created especially for her, due to Balanchine's infatuation with her, including the now famous Don Quixote ballet. Farrell worked with Balanchine again from 1975 until his death in 1983 - his final choreography were solos for Farrell. Today, Suzanne Farrell owns her own ballet company which is produced by the Kennedy Center.
Jason Fowler is an accomplished dancer of the recent generation. He studied at the Dallas Ballet Academy, and joined up with the School of American Ballet in 1993. He is now a soloist with the New York City Ballet, and can be seen performing many works including those by Balanchine and Jerome Robins.
Jerome Robbins won multiple Tony and Academy awards for his work as a choreographer in the genres of ballet and musical theatre. He created many memorable dance numbers, and also became known in Hollywood as a "show doctor" - taking over troubled productions as dance director for two musicals that went on to receive outstanding reviews. He choreographed for the Joffrey Ballet and New York City Ballet, and became ballet master of the latter in 1972.
The wide range of American dancers has provided diversified art for all to enjoy, and ballet has made tremendous contributions to the world of American dance. From turn of the century classical ballerinas to modern day choreographers, American ballet dancers continue to shape the ballet world for a new generation.